Realistically this was never going to happen, it was not that kind of festival and with the sun shining and pistes in great condition excitement was building for a very special day on the slopes. I was up early and with a nervous energy building I spent few hours on the slopes where I warmed up the legs before making my way down to the Secret Hotel for the Horizon Festival ‘Ride With A Pro Sessions’. At £20 for 2 hours pro coaching this is a feature of the festival I can just see growing in stature year on year!
Bansko Secret Hotel
Hidden through the trees at Chalin Valog the secret hotel is one of our favourite Horizon haunts, which normally came to life mid afternoon as the festival crowd spilled off the slopes each day and chilled out by the firepit, drinking beers and listening to some great music in the surrounding forest. Approaching the hotel so early in the day my thoughts turned not to listening to music and relaxing but whether you could really teach and old dog new tricks, at 34 and rusty in the park to we were about to find out!
Horizon Festival Crowds!
Upon arriving we were was soon greeted by the UK Pro rider Seb Kern who was clearly enjoying the festival as much as we were. After snow stopped play the day before he looked ecstatic to be getting the ‘Ride with a Pro’sessions underway.
Bansko Powder Day!
An epic dump had buried the park and ruled out the previous days session so things took until Wednesday to really get going @ the Secret Hotel Park. After an unusual season of snow the Horizon festival came to Bansko at just the right time and nobody was complaining about that!
Seb Kern Ride With A Pro Session 2014
While the shapers finished the final touches on the park we all sat down to sign our disclaimers and talk about our freestyle level aims for the day. Mine were simple to get back into park riding after a taking a while off, after a quick assessment of levels it seemed most of the group had the same aims. The great thing about the sessions from the off was that Seb was willing to take the time with each rider and assess their skills and build them up to try tricks on features they were comfortable with. The mood was laid back throughout and it was clear everyone would gain something useful from the sessions.
Bansko Ride Like A Pro!
Seb initially spent a few minutes watching our riding and then began working on our ollie’s. Once he was comfortable we could all do the basics we headed to the first feature of the day a nice box. After a few demo's we then spent a little while working on our Board slides and riding off the slide box switch. With a relaxed mood in the group and the beers chilling in the snow we began to egg each other on to try more and more runs as Seb watched on before offering individual feedback to each rider. With everyone doing pretty well on the rails and at the board slides nailed we took a quick break before coming back for a second hour where Seb focused entirely on our kicker skills.
Bansko Kicker Tuition!
The key here according to Seb was not to go too big too quickly ‘The Secret Hotel’ park had just the right range of kickers to make sure this did not happen. The second part of the session started on a fairly small kicker where we went through the basics of visualizing the jump, getting the approach right, achieving the correct speed and finally popping off the jump. With each trick of the day Seb demonstrated how to do the tricks first before letting us try. It was quickly evident that the smallest kicker was well within everyone’s ability and with this in mind we quickly moved up to a gap kicker. Watching a pro approach a kicker like this and talk you through all his thoughts upon the approach was really useful as this was the first feature of the day I had any apprehension about and would of probably left it alone if it was not for the pros walkthrough. Again the group element helped push everyone on and soon we were clearing the gap, a few crashed landing in the soft snow mattered not and even some grabs were thrown in for good measure before we moved on to the last feature.
Bansko Ride Like A Pro, It does not always go right!
The last obstacle of the session was an old Land Rover with a ride on kicker, after a few run throughs and getting the correct speed Seb let the group loose on the final obstacle. Watching everyone ride the feature it was great to sit back and see how far the group had come in just two hours. The whole session had a great Spring feeling about it and as we all sipped out final beers thoughts turned to one thing, what can a pro rider really do!
Bansko Two Hours of tuition later!
With time running out we all asked Seb to give us a little demonstration of how to ride over the Land Rover everyone was in awe as he did multiple, jumps, spins, grabs and got some massive air over the vehicle. It was the perfect ending to the perfect session. With the air bag slowly blowing up at the bottom of the slope I left a few of the group to session this, while I decided to head up the top of the mountain where I spent the final afternoon riding before heading down the ski road with aching muscles and a few new tricks in my bag it had been a very successful end to a brilliant festival.
Reflecting on Horizon 2014
World Snowboard Guide - Pic By Stephan Heys
This was just one of the most memorable moments of the festival that had a week of them that we can’t wait to come back too next year!
Prices for the full week started from just £279 including a lift pass, accommodation and festival wristband. The ride like a Pro Sessions cost just £20 for two hours.
About Seb Kern
Hailing from Sussex, England, Seb lives and rides in Breckenridge Colorado and travels all over Europe for various events, competitions and team shoots. Seb has featured in the famous Lockdown Projects Snowboard films in the UK as well as numerous productions in the US and Europe and is the brother of Olympic hopeful, Nate Kern, one of the UK's best snowboarders. He also goes by the name of DJSocom and DJs at events around the world including Horizon and Outlook Festival
Seb is sponsored by DC Shoes UK, Drake Europe, Smith Europe, Contour Cameras, Route One UK, Spin4, Meglad and Forcefield Protection.
More of a film rider than a comp rider, Seb has none the less has some strong results:
• 5th the British Championships big air 2011
• 6th Brits big air 2008
• Best style, Burton High Five Tour 2007
• Top 10 in Big at the Brits Championships between 2006-2010
• Top 10 Breckenridge slopestyle 2008